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Meet our Members: Joslyn Rose Lyons Makes Her Childhood Dreams Come True


Joslyn Rose Lyons was nine years old when she decided she wanted to become a filmmaker - “it was like a calling. I could visualize it”, she says. Fast forward to today and Joslyn can say she’s made her calling a reality, touting a decade in producing and directing in both film and television with, most recently, her documentary Stand premiering on Paramount Plus and Showtime.

We were excited to sit down with Joslyn, a member of Sundance Collab for over three years, to discuss her filmmaking journey.


Inspiration for her First Stories

Joslyn was already conceptualizing her first short, The Looking Glass, when she read The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks “about taking that leap from your excellence zone, to your genius zone (…) and the ability to face complacency in order to awaken the creative fire within.” While the book first inspired her to write a feature-length story, her team pushed her in the direction of a short, leading her to create her second short, Butterfly Boxing. While writing these screenplays she explored themes she was drawn to: shadows, light and time. “In some ways Looking Glass was my love letter to time,” she says “I have always been fascinated by time. I believe that art is a reflection of life, or life a reflection of art. Ultimately, I  don’t see the creative journey as a linear process, but rather as a holistic body of work, with connectivity, each project leading to the next.”

Eyes on her first short with Sundance Collab

In the summer of 2020, Joslyn joined the Sundance Collab community, with her short film Looking Glass under her belt. “Sundance Collab was incredibly instrumental in my filmmaking journey,” she says. Early on, she submitted her short for feedback from Emmy and Peabody-winning filmmaker Trey Ellis, who was a Sundance Collab Advisor-in-Residence at the time. (Learn directly from Trey Ellis in the Screenwriting: Core Elements Course). Her short was selected for the online meetup where she garnered valuable feedback — “Trey Ellis is an incredible visionary. His feedback inspired more questions than answers, and motivated me to search within the depths of my tool box, and inspired me to continue seeking the light within these stories,” she says. Her short then continued on to screen at the virtual edition of Sundance London, also winning awards at The American Film Award, IndieFest, TopShorts Best Female Director, The Berlin Flash Film Festival, The IndieFEST Film Awards and Focus International Film Festival amongst others.

She looks back at this unique experience with Sundance Collab remembering the community of filmmakers she connected with: “It has been incredibly inspiring being able to connect with such a seasoned network of writers and filmmakers. The events and feedback have provided guidance, tools, structure, and inspiration for much of my work these past few years. I’m so grateful.”

A Feature Length Directorial Debut Premiering on Showtime and Paramount Plus

While Joslyn was directing her shorts, she was already piecing together her first feature, inspired by similar narratives of time, light and shadows. Joslyn, who had converted to Islam in the early 2000s, naturally took interest in the story of NBA star and social justice activist Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf who (having converted to Islam in the early 1990s), refused to stand during the national anthem. She felt she could personally relate to his story, explaining “I believe the right stories find you, and as long as you’re tuned into what you truly love.”

Joslyn conceived her documentary through several lenses, with the metaphor of shadow boxing as a central one. “Mahmoud is a fighter, and an alchemist. One of the first shoots I conceptualized for the Stand was Mahmoud shadowboxing. As the director, I wanted to shine a light on the areas of his life that had been left out of focus. I believe that is part of our job as storytellers, to tell the parts of the stories that were left unseen. Mahmoud faced these invisible opponents within the shadows, to find his light.”

Her story came together in her fascinating full-length documentary, Stand, which came out earlier this year and can be watched on Showtime and Paramount Plus.

With a filmmaking journey filled with inspiration, growth and success, Joslyn envisions “new projects, seeking the light, and sparking positive change,” in the years to come.

If, like Joslyn, you too would like to be part of the Sundance Collab community, check out our membership options. Consider joining at the Collaborator or All Access level for extra resources and benefits, which Joslyn benefited from.

And now, introducing the Sundance Collab Questionnaire. Get to know the community with these revealing questions!

The Sundance Collab Questionnaire

How would you define yourself in three words?
Grateful, optimistic, spiritual.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Trust the process, rejection, is just a redirection.

What inspires you creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
I am inspired by stories that spark change, messages that ignite light, both that illuminates the path ahead, and the journey within.

What are you most excited about at this time in your life?
I’m excited about new projects, creating inspiring stories.

What are you proud of but never have an excuse to talk about?
My cooking, I can pretty much make anything and I love cooking as much as filmmaking.

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